Bipolar Supporter? Help Your Loved One Through These Times

Hi, how’s it going? I hope things are going good for you.

The holidays are not always easy for someone with bipolar disorder. All the excitement can “trip” one into a bipolar manic episode. The let-down after the holidays may “trip” one into a bipolar depressive episode.

You really need to watch your loved one at this time of year especially. And, of course, they need to be watching themselves.

Two of the worst triggers to a bipolar episode are anxiety and stress. The holidays are full of both these triggers for your loved one.

One advantage you have is that you can look back at last year and see how the holidays affected your loved one. Did they get nervous? Stressed? Out of control? Even gone into an episode? If it happened last year, it’s probably a good indicator of what will happen this year. So you need to be vigilant, and not let down your guard even though it is the holidays. Actually, you shouldn’t let down your guard especially because it’s the holidays.

If your loved one got anxious or stressed last year at this time, you will probably have to help them through this year as well. You can help your loved one through anxiety and stress.

Here are some suggestions:

• Be supportive

• Watch for signs or symptoms of an episode

• Avoid too much excitement

• Keep the gatherings to small ones

• Always have a Plan B

• Make arrangements so that your loved one can leave a gathering early if they get too anxious or stressed

• Have a ready (plausible) excuse for declining
holiday invitations so that your loved one doesn’t
get overwhelmed or be uncomfortable

• Make sure that your loved one is comfortable
wherever you go, and avoid those places (like the
mall) that cause them anxiety or stress

• Keep the home environment as stress-free as possible

• Only have people over to your house if your loved
one is ok with it

• Occasionally check with your loved one
verbally to see if they are feeling ok – but not
so much that they feel like you are bugging them

• Be understanding if your loved one doesn’t feel
up to company, or up to going out to a gathering
or party (you may have to hide your disappointment)

Although the holidays are a trigger for some people
with bipolar disorder, your loved one doesn’t have to
be one of these people with a little forethought and
planning, as well as vigilance on your part.

Well, I have to go!

Your Friend,


  1. Yes, my sister shoplifted again during the holidays and now facing more serious time, due to past record. This is very distressing. However, I believe people, despite the mental illness, can follow the commandment not to steal, avoiding the store. Doesn’t make sense to us. Was going to fly down to be there during the holidays because I thought she would be tempted to shoplift again. Didn’t have the money now, so didn’t. Now, wish I had. Will try and find a counselor there in Largo, Florida area if she gets out. Probably in for a year atleast. Need all the support we can get. Thank-you for daily comments. Cece

  2. hi, your emails make a big difference to me. I reading things about bi polar disorder and am trying to understand it. I have a ex friend who won’t even talk to me now. She took things I said the wrong way. She was kind of moody, sometimes flat and cold. She does not wantr to be my friend now, but at least I’m trying to understand and trying not to take all the blame and feel guity. It hurts, but Im trying to move on. Thanks for all the great things you are doing…

  3. Wow, this is the first time the holidays hit like a ton of bricks. No money for gifts, stress at home. Too many bills too little money. Regrets and memories of past Christmas’s. Missing deceased family. Lot of boo hooing.

    Ended up on tranquilizers. Am okay now. Would feel better if a ss check showed up. Christmas turned out fine. Actually pretty much a miracle as all 3 of my daughters + me are bipolar. Everybody have a good year.

  4. Dear Dave,
    yoiur email makes all the sene in the world. I have a daugher who has BP. We have followed sych a plan as your one to the letter and we all had the greatest christmas.
    No we never trasvelled 800 kilometers to be with my son
    No I didn’t force Rachel to join i any of the revelry if she didn’t want to ( instead she elected to stay in her pyjamas all day and spenfd a bit of it in bed instead – she did get up to open presents , she did get up to help eith the xmas dinner. Xmas didn’t revolve around Rachel so much as – me and her children had a great time around her , and every time she wanted to be included she joined us.
    We didn’t have anyone over
    Rachel didn’t have to go to the mall to get gifts( we did all that 2 months ago
    No we didn’t have to get droceries – we had begun to get xmas groceries 1 month before the event
    All our bills were paid off by direct credit payments
    there was so little stress
    what a miracle xmas
    thank you dave for all your help

  5. To SHONA: It does my heart good to hear that you and Rachel had an AWESOME Christmas together – FINALLY!! It sounds as if you prepared in all the right ways, and allowed Rachel to participate in those activities where she felt comfortable. I’m sure the grandchildren were THRILLED with their Christmas, AND their Mom!! You have turned into the BEST Supporter of your daughter that you ever could…I’m proud of the work you have done…as well as the work Rachel has done for herself. There IS hope for stability in the New Year!! Just keep doing the things you have started to do in 2009, and your family will be richly blessed.

    BIG HUGS to all bipolar survivors and those who love us. May God bless you real good. I pray for my country. May each and EVERY one of you have a BLESSED, SAFE, HAPPY, HEALTHY, and PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR!!

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